Warsaw commits to supporting Stellar Communities application with $1.8 million

June 9th, 2016

News Coverage:

June 8, 2016

Warsaw commits to supporting Stellar Communities application with $1.8 million

David Slone | Times-Union

If Warsaw is named a 2016 Stellar Communities designee, the city expects to spend $450,000 a year for four years in matching funds, but in return receive over $10 million in grants and private investment dollars.

Monday night, the Common Council approved a resolution authorizing the city to apply for the Stellar Community Designation. Part of that resolution states the city is committing $450,000 per year from the Economic Development, Redevelopment and various department project funds for a period of four years to be used as an investment match. The resolution is the first time the city has put a dollar figure to its expected match.

Mayor Joe Thallemer said the resolution will accompany the Stellar Investment Plan in the city’s application to the Stellar state committee.

Warsaw’s plan includes revitalization of the East Market Street neighborhood area, preservation of historic resources, production of affordable housing, promotion of economic development activities, expansion of available transportation choices, enhancements to the Warsaw Park System and promotion of mixed land uses, according to the resolution.

Thallemer said he got similar supportive resolutions from the county commissioners, Town of Winona Lake and the Warsaw and Winona Lake Redevelopment Commissions, but there were no dollar figures in those resolutions.

“All of these projects, if they were done outside of Stellar, would be competitive projects, and just like a road funding project would require a 20 percent match in road funding. Some of the other have different match requirements, so I asked (City Planner) Jeremy (Skinner) to sit down and look at what funds would be required to fund these projects if they had been done separately outside of Stellar and to understand that there’s a local match that’s used to leverage. So we’re looking at about $450,000 a year for four years, so you’re looking at about $1.8 million that’s being used to leverage approximately $6.5 million in funds and accessible grants in the Stellar designation and probably an additional $4 million to $6 million in private investment,” Thallemer explained.

He said the city’s investment of $1.8 million over the next four years will be leverage to about $11 million to $12 million for projects.

While the council was being asked for their commitment to this, he said they weren’t being asked to allocate any funds for it at this time.

Council President Mike Klondaris said when he first read the resolution he had a few misconceptions about it, but the mayor alleviated those fears.

“Coming from the business world, whenever you can invest $1 and get $3 back, that’s a pretty good deal,” he said.

Diane Quance, council member and council representative to the Park Board, said some of the projects are already part of the Parks Department’s five-year master plan. She said with grant money from Stellar, the Parks will save money on those projects.

The Stellar Communities designees will be announced Aug. 18 at the Indiana State Fair. If Warsaw is named a designee, it will have three years to access the $6.5 million in funds and about five years to complete the projects.

Jack Wilhite, councilman, said, “As I understand it, this $450,000 is not additional projects. It’s projects we’ve already considered and are moving forward with. We’re just earmarking them as Stellar projects to get grant money.”

“Exactly,” Thallemer said. “To leverage this money. Frankly, I couldn’t have said it better.”

Assistant City Planner Tim Dombrosky said two to three projects would probably be done a year from 2017 to 2022, if the city is named a Stellar Community.